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I visited the middle eastern country of Jordan over New Year 2011-2. We started in the capital Amman where we took a trip out to the old Roman city of Jerash. This is a fantastically preserved city and I have reviewed it separately. On the way back to Amman we stopped at a Dead Sea resort for a dip. As many know, the Dead Sea represent the lowest point on Earth and the sea here is extremely salty which basically kills most normal marine lifeforms. Because of the high salt content, it makes it more buoyant for us humans to float in. You don't want to get this water in your eyes or mouth,I accidentally splashed and got some on my lip, which I instinctively licked and then spent the next minute or two spluttering. I found it quite hard to get my balance, even though we were in shallow water, as I am not used to floating. Once I got myself into the 'starfish' position I was much more comfortable and not listing about.
Also on our trip we visited Mount Nebo (where Moses supposedly saw the Promised land for the first time), the town of Madaba, home of Byzantine mosaic maps and Karak, where the Crusaders' built a castle. Next up on our trip was the famous ruined, ancient city of Petra - you will have to take my word for the fact it was fantastic! You can easily spend two days here.
When it got to New Year's Eve, we travelled out to Wadi Rum, made famous by Lawrence of Arabia. This is the most accessible part of the Jordanian desert. We were staying the night in a 'traditional' Bedouin camp, which we accessed by bumpy flatbed trucks. They had got some portaloos and covered areas for the tourists, so not entirely the traditional camp we were expecting, but I slept under the stars by the fire as it was pretty cold this time of year. Next day you could take camel rides, but I had done this elsewhere. We then spent a night in Aqaba on the Red Sea where you could go on a boat trip. I elected to relax in the hotel, by the pool, as this was the first warm day we had. The next day we returned to Amman and saw some of the city sights such as the Citadel and remains of the Umayyed Palace and columns of the Temple of Hercules. We also visited the nearby Roman Theatre which was huge and spectacular. Generally the Jerash ruins were better, but there is still a lot to see here too.
I Looked Over Jordan and What Did I See..?
I wrote my review about Jordan yesterday the 9th November. We returned back to the UK from Jordan one week ago. The news this morning, the 10th November, informing us of the suicide terrorist bombing in Amman has saddened me enormously but I decided to publish my experiences of a wonderful week in a beautiful country in spite of this.
The 10.15 am five and a half hour flight from Gatwick to Aqaba in Jordan was smooth and the time passed quickly. I always get excited flying over deserts and even more so on this trip as we flew over the clear blue Red Sea and the resort of Aqaba, made a U-turn, approached the small airport from the sea landing at 3.30 pm. The immigration formalities were speedy and within half an hour our 'gang' of thirty Voyageurs Jules Verne travellers were seated in our coach with our Jordanian tour guide Omar giving us the basic details of what was happening next as we sped along the road to the Nabotaean rose-red city of Petra for a three night stay in the four star Crown Plaza Hotel; let the adventure of discovering Jordan begin.
We were to travel through the highways and deserts of Jordan staying in Petra, Amman and Aqaba in four and five star hotels, including the Radisson SAS in Aqaba. Even as a young woman I was useless at roughing it so Morty and myself do need the promise of luxury, a comfy bed, a good meal, a bath and a beer at the end of hot and strenuous days spent sightseeing, walking and often bumpy coach rides to prepare ourselves for the following day's excitement and culture.
Even though there had been an incident in August this year with some middle -eastern men renting a warehouse in Aqaba and firing missiles at some USA ships anchored in the Red Sea, missing their target and hitting the Israeli Red Sea resort of Eilat injuring an Israeli taxi-driver, we felt safe, although in retrospect I realise that we weren't. Unlike our 2004 visit to Egypt we had no armed guards escorting us in Jordan and no physical evidence of security at any of our hotels . Our guide told us how proud the Jordanians are of their King Abdullah, son of the late King Hussein and his British wife, who travels the world as a business man, wearing a suit and carrying a briefcase to promote his country.
Our first meal in Petra that evening was memorable. Although buffet-style, the Jordanian Mezzah of hummus, tahini, olives, salads, pitta, cracked wheat, aubergines, meatballs and soup was delicious. I soon realised that the Mezzah alone plus mouth watering Turkish style deserts of baklava, pancakes, halva, figs and sweet cinnamon scented rice puddings was my preferred choice so subsequently I omitted the hot dishes of lamb and chicken stews and shish kebabs.
We had an early start the next morning, so after a refreshing sleep and breakfast of fresh figs, yoghurt and coffee; we began our full day exploring Petra. Forget fashion and style. Wear walking shoes, wear a hat, carry water and apply sun protection. The two mile walk along the narrow corridor between the high rocks is a downward slope. There are fine horses, camels, pony and traps and donkeys for hire waiting at the entrance to Petra to taxi the visitor down but the walk isn't overly taxing. Along the way view sculptures in the rocks, Greek inscriptions and admire the light and shadow as the sun beams through the darkness of the narrow walkway. Then pause and hold your breath as the corridor opens up and the brilliant sunshine illuminates the grand treasury building of Petra carved from the rose-hued rock in the 1st century BC. You'll recognise the Corinthian columns from scenes in the film 'Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade'. You are in a special place.
Continue walking along a further narrow passage past several tombs to see a Roman style theatre discovered as recently as 1975 by archaeologists with work still in progress. See Roman public baths, shops and monuments along the once colonnaded main street then make the steep climb to the monastery, worth the effort for the panoramic views of mountains and deserts. Although the climb was strenuous and in some places slippery on the well worn steps, donkeys were carrying twenty stone men up to the monastery - with the overweight men being held in place by young Jordanian males otherwise they would have fallen off the donkey. Shame they didn't let them!
After one full day travelling and a full day at Petra we were exhausted so were delighted the have the next day free to relax by the hotel pool restoring ourselves for our evening walk to Petra by Night with only flickering candles to light our way. Night falls quickly so by 6.30 pm we were following the candle-lit route back to the treasury in Petra to hear Bedouin music and folklore followed by dinner in a restaurant in the heart of the rose-red city. The stars have never seemed so bright and numerous as we picked our way through the uneven terrain along the narrow corridor. I do wonder about future health and safety because two of our group fell over in the darkness, hurting themselves, and one man got blisters as he was wearing borrowed trainers. Buy your own trainers. Take a torch. By 8.30 pm we were eating a Bedouin meal in the open air and being entertained by music and dancing, relieved to discover we weren't walking back uphill with full stomachs and instead had a hair-raising drive back on unmade roads to the Plaza and a deep and satisfying sleep.
The next morning we made a fond farewell to Petra, destination Amman, and driven along The Kings Highway, thus named since Biblical times, journeying through the Holy Land stopping to see Karak Castle built by the Crusaders in the 12th century to impose Christian rule on the Middle East after capturing Jerusalem in 1099. Karak Castle was rebuilt as a set based on the ruins as they are now for the film 'The Kingdom of Heaven'. We stood high up on the roof of castle keep offering us magnificent views of the deserts of Jordan and Israel. Such history!
Time for a quick lunch at the castle then another stop en route to Mabada, the city of mosaics, to a 6th century Byzantine mosaic map of the Holy Land then on to the most revered site in Jordan, Mount Nebo; a peaceful and holy place with views standing on the highest point over the Dead Sea, Jordan, Bethlehem and Jerusalem with a memorial to the prophet Moses and the alleged site of his death and burial place. Once again, we had been travelling, sightseeing, walking and eating since breakfast in Petra and were pleased to arrive as night fell in Amman, the capital of Jordan, at the Amra Crown Plaza for a two night stay beginning with a shower, a beer, another great meal and another welcome and comfortable bed.
No lie-in opportunity though, as we were up early again as to travel east from Amman to visit the eastern desert towards the Iraqi boarder, with Syria to the north and Saudi Arabia to the south and tour the Roman Desert Castles built as frontier posts for the eastern edge of their empire. A bit too close to the Iraq, Syria and Saudi Arabia borders for comfort but I simply put it out of my mind as we passed Jordanian trucks taking supplies to Iraq and Iraqi oil tankers delivering to Jordan, then onwards to the Roman Decapolis city of Jerash in the north for lunch and a tour. The ten Roman/Greek cities of the Decapolis, founded mainly by Alexander the Great around 323 BC, were models of urban planning for the whole Middle East. This Roman city has been beautifully preserved as it was buried in sand. We spent a happy three hours exploring the arches, gates, temples, colonnades and theatres seating over three thousand spectators. I'm still not sure why we sat in the auditorium watching the bagpipes played by Jordanian pipers performing traditional Scottish songs!
Do you know? We were tired! Are you surprised? We were driven back to Amman in the early evening for our first 'proper' drink with another couple in the comfortable hotel bar, then to eat a light supper and have a very early night. The night life in Amman is exciting and varied with clubs and restaurants and excellent shopping facilities - if you have the energy.
Do you know? Its day five and we haven't unpacked yet, just our washing gear and a daily rummage in our cases for clean T/shirts. So, a final breakfast in Amman then cases back on the coach for the last leg of discovering Jordan driving along the scenic Wadi Araba road to the Red Sea resort of Aqaba for two nights.
But first, a half day tour of the sprawling city of Amman which has spread from the original seven hills to over twenty, urbanising valuable agricultural land in the process. We concentrated on the downtown area, the oldest part of the city, standing on ancient ruins of The Temple of Hercules dating back to AD161 and admiring the panoramic views of this ancient and bustling city. Leaving Amman we drove south to the Dead Sea for a swim and then lunch. We've been to the Dead Sea before on the Israeli side so knew what to expect. It was hot. It was still. It was spooky. Thankfully we were the only two in our group who didn't bathe in the Dead Sea that day. Omar, our guide, warned us there were sharp stones on the edges of the water but unfortunately almost everyone cut their feet quite severely on the stones and required attention. Others had stinging eyes and sore skin from the high salt and mineral content. They all said they were pleased to have bathed in the Dead Sea, but never again!
We arrived in Aqaba just before nightfall. The rooms in the Radisson SAS were spacious and comfortable, with a balcony overlooking the hotel pool, the beach bar and directly over the private sandy beach and the deep blue waters of the Red Sea. Twelve years ago we had spent a few days in the Israeli resort of Eilat across the bay and seen the white buildings of Aqaba from there. Now I was overlooking Eilat and the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Taba from our Jordanian hotel balcony.
At this stage I was getting tired of some of the group complaining about the repeated buffets and how they longed for a bowl of soup and a crusty roll. Or a pizza! One woman told us she only ever ate pasta and cheese and couldn't find any Middle Eastern foods to suit her. She looked like a huge bowl of cooked pasta and a lump of white fatty cheese so I had to bite my lip and hold my tongue and make no comment.
Nevertheless, when a younger couple in the group invited us to join them for an evening meal of seafood specialities in the Aqaba Yatch Club we accepted. We were both missing our regular fish meals and our taste buds fancied a change. That evening we sat on the terrace of the Yatch Club overlooking the Red Sea and the classy yachts eating an Italian meal of Antipasto and Frito Misto, drinking very good Jordanian wines complete with fun company and all was well with the world.
Aqaba is a perfect beach resort for those seeking sun, sea and sand, and water sports in the spring, autumn and winter with the airport a ten minute drive from the resort. Forget the summer months as it is far too hot and oppressive. Select the best hotel you can afford overlooking the beach, although Jordan isn't an expensive holiday destination and because of this week's sad events will become even cheaper. Aqaba is also a good base for optional excursions to visit the sort of cultural places of interest I've described so far in my review. I've seen one week in a five star beach hotel in Aqaba advertised for around £350 which is cheap for winter sun and without the strain of a long haul flight.
But we hadn't finished discovering Jordan just yet. After a morning at leisure basking on the glorious beach and quietly reading we were to drive to Wadi Rum, one of the world's most colourful and unique landscapes of desert and mountain scenery, to watch the dramatic sunset followed by dinner in a Bedouin tent. Most of the scenes for the film 'Laurence of Arabia' were shot using these landscapes at Wadi Rum (We rented 'Laurence of Arabia' on our first weekend back home and sat picking out the landmarks of Wadi Rum as we spotted them)
Considering nothing had happened to alarm me during our week in Jordan, including high mountain desert passes and overhanging hairpin bends in the coach, and driving near other Middle Eastern borders, this next adventure almost had me in tears. When I saw the line of ancient Toyota pick up trucks and was told we were to ride six in a truck in the open back I blanched. I blanched even more when I saw there were no seat belts, the windscreen was shattered with no clear vision and our driver must have been all of a twelve year old Jordanian boy-racer. What a hair-raising ride through the desert that was. I almost missed the famous rock formation of The Seven Pillars of Wisdom as I hung on for dear life. Bumping, tossing us around in the back, barely avoiding rocks, almost tipping over sending us flying out and going faster and faster as the manic drivers raced each other to the safety of the mountain where we were to sit and watch the sunset; I admit to unashamedly screaming like a baby both on the way there and on the way back - but I wouldn't have missed it for the world. We had our final candlelit dinner in Jordan in a huge Bedouin tent in the desert complete with more musicians and bonfires as the desert gets very cold at night; a fitting end to a wonderful travel experience. We left Aqaba and Jordan the next afternoon at four o'clock and arrived back at Gatwick at ten o'clock the same night, tired, happy and full of the wonders we had seen.
Buying gifts in Jordan was quite difficult. In most countries, such as China and Egypt, the local guides lead the visitor to shops encouraging them to spend money on things we don't really need to bring back home as gifts and mementos. This didn't happen in Jordan. We were there in Ramadan when all Muslims fast until sunset for one month. They must think we are strange always asking if we can stop for a mint tea or a coffee and what time are we stopping for lunch. The only places the visitor can drink alcohol is in the tourist hotel bars and the hotel room mini-bars. The Jordanian currency, the dinar, is the easiest ever to convert as one dinar equals about one pound sterling. English is widely spoken and we were made to feel welcome and treated with respect and warmth. We have been to Tunisia, Morocco, and Israel and twice to Egypt and now Jordan. I am sad to admit this may be the last time we visit the Middle East for a while and there is still so much of it to see and enjoy; hopefully in more peaceful times?
You may have noticed a lack of opinions from me recently - the reason for this is I've been on holiday to Jordan. We booked this about eight months ago through Travelbag Adventures, long before the tragic events of September 11th. Although we had some doubts about travelling (and the attacks on Afghanistan started during our hoilday), I must say that the Jordanian people made us feel extremely welcome, and at NO TIME during our holiday did we feel threatened. We took a nine day holiday, at a cost of £900, which included all the major sights. Here's our experience, and evaluation of the trip DAY ONE The trip started with a Royal Jordanian flight including a short stop at Munich. We arrived in Amman at 17.45 and met our tour guide Samir. We booked in at the hotel and then out for a good Jordanian meal in a traditional restaurant. DAY TWO After a good night`s sleep we were ready to start the sightseeing in earnest. Our first stop was Jerash, a town with a history stretching back 2300 years. There was much to see including two theatres, several temples and the famous colonnaded street (which an American PBS filmmaker in earshot likened to a bowling alley with the skittles at the side!). After lunch we headed south to the mineral-saturated waters of the Dead Sea. At 400 metres below sea level, this is the lowest place on earth. We donned our bathing costumes and took a dip. The buoyancy was amazing. It was impossible to sink. In fact, it was impossible to swim normally. We had a genuine Dead Sea mud bath, and then showered and headed back. We thought the day was going well, too well, when we had one quick detour into the obligatory gift shop! We ventured out and enjoyed a quiet dinner in a seafood restaurant. It was a pleasant evening so we sat outside and enjoyed a Mövenpick ice cream and a turkish coffee. At bed-time we switched on CNN to learn that America and Britain had launched
cruise missiles and air attacks at Afghanistan. DAY THREE After breakfast we headed out to Mount Nebo, the reported burial place of Moses. The wind on the hillside was amazing. Unfortunately, it was so strong that the dust clouds obscured the view that we would otherwise have had across the Dead Sea to Jerusalem. After exploring the church (following in the footsteps of the Pope!), we drove to Madaba, with only a quick ten minute stop en-route at the mosaic factory (also known as a gift shop!). At Madaba the wind was still blowing so we walked briskly into St George`s church. There we saw a 6th century mosaic map of the Holy Land, still in remarkable condition. It is still a working church, so they simply cover over the mosaic with a carpet during the service. We were on a tight schedule so there was no time to waste as we headed towards Kerak. The scenery was breathtaking - Wadi Mujib was 1000 metres deep and the road snaked down to the bottom and up the other side. At Kerak we explored the castle which dates back 850 years to the Crusades. On leaving Kerak it was a 2 hour drive to our final destination that day - Dana Nature Reserve. We arrived in time to sit out on our balcony and watch a beautiful sunset. There was no TV or radio, so we spent a pleasant evening not knowing what was going on elsewhere in the world. DAY FOUR An early awakening to watch the sunrise and wallk up through the village to the spring above Dana. Breakfast was quickly eaten and then we were ready for our walk through the Nature Reserve. Our guide for the morning, Jahed, was enthusiastic about what lay ahead. The scenery was stunning, but we were less enthusiastic about identifying hyena prints amongst those left by the Nike and Reebok. The walk lasted all of the morning until we reached the campsite where lunch was to be taken. After lunch we all climbed into a pickup truck to be taken back to our bus for the
onward journey to Wadi Musa, our overnight resting place. The scenery on the way was desolate and the roads were bumpy, so we were pleased to arrive in the town that was to be our base for exploring Petra. DAY FIVE We spent a memorable day exploring the wonders of Petra. The site was huge, something the photos can`t really do justice to. The walk through the Siq, with the fantastic last minute view of The Treasury was breathtaking, but much more was waiting for us. After lunch we climbed the 800+ steps to see the Monastery. The sight that awaited us was well worth the climb! We carried on walking to see the stunning view of Mt. Aaron, the resting place of Moses' brother and the dramatic Wadi Araba. After a superb day in Petra it was all too soon to head back through the Siq, but there was one final surprise as we looked back towards Petra - an amazing sunset. DAY SIX We had an early start as we had another morning inside Petra to enjoy the magic one more time. Rested after a good night`s sleep, we had enough energy to climb a mountain (smallish) to enjoy a spectacular view of the Treasury. We also had enough time and energy to climb another mountain, this time on the other side of the Little Siq to the place of high sacrifice to get another perspective of the enormity of the site. After lunch it was time to head out into the desert and our overnight destination - Wadi Rum. We said goodbye to our driver Jemal, and climbed into our 4WD vehicles. We had a bumpy off road drive into Wadi Rum to watch a spectacular sunset. This wasn't the end of the excitement; we had a buffet dinner (better than many we had had earlier in the holiday), a bottle of Mount Nebo wine (we couldn't quite recognise the grape variety) and then what we'd eagerly anticipated all day - marshmallows toasted over the open fire. As bedtime approached we ignored the dogs barking in the village and settled down outside
, under the starlit sky, in our sleeping bags. DAY SEVEN We had an action-packed day in the desert. We awoke, very early, to watch the sky change colour at dawn, and had a short stroll before breakfast to a neolithic village, where the shapes of the houses were still visible. It was incredibly hot during the rest of the day as we climbed rocks, sand dunes, and rode camels. We continued a long day's hot and bumpy driving through the desert to reach our hotel in Aqaba. Here we were greeted by a very welcome cold drink, air-conditioning, a shower and a flushing toilet! DAY EIGHT We awoke refreshed after a good night's sleep and decided to continue the relaxation therapy with a day at the beach. A short taxi journey took us outside Aqaba to the Royal Diving Club where we chilled out until sunset. DAY NINE Our flight to Amman was rescheduled, giving us an unexpected lie in (until 7 o'clock) and time for breakfast. It also meant that we had a much shorter stopover in Amman than originally expected. However, another surprise was waiting for us at Amman - our flight to London had been brought forward, so we didn't even have time to visit the duty free shop! We had a brief stopover in Rome and arrived in Heathrow ahead of schedule. A perfect end to a great holiday. CONCLUSION We had a great time, and the holiday lived up to the expectations we had from the brochure. Travelbag doesn't use 4 or 5 star hotels, but that is what keeps the price down. Having travelled with many other companies, my only recommendation would be to check carefully what is included. Our tour appeared competitively priced, but we had a number of un-optional extras. On many days we had no choice but to pay 6 Dinars (approximately £6) for an uninspiring buffet lunch. Also, we ended up tipping more than twice the amount suggested by the trip dossier. Perhaps we've been spoiled by travelling with Bales where most
of the food and tipping is already included! WOULD WE USE TRAVELBAG AGAIN? Definitely!
I agree with other opinions about Jordan, in that there is a lot more ot see than just Petra. "Just" Petra is a bit harsh, since it ranks alonside the most amazing places I have ever visited and warrants at least a full day. But Jordan in general makes a very good week to ten day trip. Staying longer might let you get to know the place much better, but for a purely tourist visit, a week to ten days is fine. Here's the itinerary I did and it was very easy, quite relaxing indeed. Day 1 Look around Amman - Roman remains etc and hire your car. Day 2 Drive to Jerash early. Touring the Roman city takes most of a day, but there's enough time left to drive up to the north, beneath the Golan Heights and look across to Galilee. Drive back to Amman down the Jordan valley via Salt. Day 3 Head south to Madaba and spend the morning looking at the Byzantine fresco work. Detour to Mount Nebo. More frescoes and lots of views over the Dead Sea. Carry on south down the King's Highway. Stop at Kerak for a tour of the castle. Do take one of the local guides because he will make the ruin come alive with his stories of Crusaders. Drive to Petra. Day 4 Petra. One whole day. Day 5 Drive to Wadi Rum. You don't need to hire a 4 wheel drive at the exorbitant rates that are quoted. Go to the visitor's centre and rent a local driver with his own Landcruiser by the hour. You can do one, two or more hours or even stay overnight in the desert. The rates are fixed and are published. No haggling needed. We did a four hour tour. Drive on to Aqaba for the late afternoon and have dinner by the sea as the sun sets. We then drove back to Petra. Day 6 Drive back to Amman via the Dead Sea. Pause at the hot springs, dip in Dead Sea and visit the other Byzantine sites at the north end of the sea. Day 7 This was the part that one might cut out. We did the desert castles tour, driving 500 kilometres in the day.
It's a loop to the east of Amman towards the Saudi and Iraqi border. There's also some nature reserves out there. It's a very interesting trip, but not actually spectacular. Perhaps the most interesting part of all was driving off down dirt road trying to find a ruined castle marked on the map. After 25km we gave up and went back, but the desert was interesting. Take it easy so you don't break the car. Day 8 Leave There are many other things to see "along the way" that I haven't mentioned. We stayed in cheapie places mentioned in Lonely Planet and this helped to keep the costs down because overall Jordan is not cheap. It's a good trip, though.
I have never, ever understood why Jordan is so underrated as a holiday resort. It has so much to offer, and yet people seem to opt for Morrocco and Algeria, and Israel for their middle-eastern holidays instead of Jordan. What is so good about a holiday to Jordan, is that whatever type of holiday you are looking for, it can be caterd for. If you like beach holidays, then there is the beautifull 'Aqaba', which has the cleanest, whitest sands i have seen , and a beautifull blue sea, and of course excellent sunbathing weather! If you're the type who likes sightseeing, then you couldnt ask for a country with a wider variety of sights. There is the unforgetable Petra, a city carved out of rose coloured rock, there are several Roman amphi-theaters, one of which is right in the centre of Amman, there are numerous castels and ruins dotted all over Jordan, there is the dead sea, which is a must if only for the novelty value, and then there is the breathtaking 'Mount Nebo', where there is an annual hot-air-balloon race. And thats just naming a few. If you like you're shopping, then obviously Jordan isn't New York or London, but there are some good, brand-new shopping malls, with the likes of 'Morgan', and 'Naf Naf'. And because of the rich culture, you'll find it impossible to resist buying souvenirs, such as sheepskin drums, embroidered cloth, and carved wood ornaments, which are all very cheap and decorative. The food in Jordan is fantastic, and extremely cheap, a 'Humous and Falafel' sandwich will cost you no more than 50p, and meals at proper resturaunts are unbelievably cheap in comparison with England. Some of the older locals in Jordan are sometimes a little hostile towards foreigners if you venture into the poorer areas (such as downtown Amman), but are very very friendly and hospitable otherwise, and many locals jump at the chance to practice their english!! The onlygroup of people that Jordan doesnt cater for is probably
clubbers!!.... i mean there is the odd club in Jordan ,a dn some very sophisticated resturaunts, but its not exactly Ibiza!!! Overall, i would say, even though holidays to Jordan can be expensive... go as soon as you can before it becomes overcrowded with tourists.
Not far off from the monastry on Mt Nebo, I watched the sun set over the Dead Sea as the lights from Israel and the Jordan valley flickered beneath me. I can remember the colours still. I spent just under five months there, teaching in the capital Amman and exploring what ever else the country have to offer. It is an ideal holiday destination, as you can see the wonders of Petra, camp in the desert of Wadi Run, scuba dive in Aqaba, float n the dead sea and discover one of the world nest preserved Roman cities at Jerash. In addition you can meet some of the most hospitable and welcoming people to be found. The only disadvantage I found was the clash in culture, as being a young western woman does not command much respect with arab men especially. Their attitude can be quite humiliating. However, that was only a small part of my experience and not one that dictated it by any means. The capital Amman is growing more cosmopolitan by the day. The Abdoun area, with Planet Hollywood and Irish bars is the place to be on a Thursday night. During the week, a trip dowtown to the gold or vegeatble souq will immerse you in the more routine but no less intruiging side to the city. So whether for a weeks break or for a backpacker trip, get over to Jordan and enjoy. And if you've got room in your suitcase, take me too!
A year old, Vinaigrette is an escape from traditional restaurants and the hefty prices of the Five Star Hotel establishments. Situated on the last floor of the AlQasr Hotel, the ambiance is quite modern complementing the eclectic cuisine. You can dine on a variety of Salads, I personally recommend the Salmon, this in addition to a large variety of fresh made juices, shakes and cocktails. Clientele vary from teens and 30 something locals to foreigners, all in all quite relaxing with Jazz tunes in the background!
What can I say about Jordan? The first time my husband told me he wanted to go there I was not interested. It did not appeal to me at all. Luckily Jim kept on until I gave in. It was to be quite an expensive holiday, one week on bed and breakfast and I thought it would be a waste of money. Well I'm the first to admit to being wrong. It was one of the most memorable holidays I have ever experienced. Jordan itself is much like any other desert, if you have ever been to one you will know what I mean. The people are very hospitable, the climate hot and dry and the scenery very different to anything you have ever seen or could ever imagine. The most amazing part of Jordan was Petra. Nothing could prepare me for the scenery I was about to witness. After a long walk along the Sook, which is like walking along the bottom of a long deep crevice about 25 feet wide and a mile or so long, you come out facing the Registry. This is a building, which has been hewn out of the rose red rock of Petra. The rock itself is sandstone of many different colours swaying this way and that looking like many different pieces of coloured plasticine merged together but not mixed. It was mind-boggling. The Registry was impressive itself standing maybe more than 200 ft. tall with columns and statues carved into it. The whole of the city of Petra was carved out of this colourful rock. There were caves and dwellings everywhere, impossible to believe this was done with hand made tools. Apart from the scenery the place was immense and I got very tired, I had to have a camel ride back. A real camel ride, mind you. On my own, holding the reigns, with the owner behind hitting my camel with a stick. Rather scary but very exhilarating. Then we took a trip to the Dead Sea. This is something I have vowed to do again some day. To slather yourself in the mud which if your husband is tall enough (mine is) to get his foot into the soft mud and hook some out, you can get f
rom the sea itself. This made my skin feel soft for days. My husband was cured of his tennis elbow and we had a wonderful time floating. Don't get any in your eyes or mouth though, it stings the eyes and tastes disgusting. This country is a must to visit if you can afford it and if you can't then get a loan. I recommend this to everyone.